|Rookie from Auburn giving Bironas competition at kicker|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2007 11:51|
Rob Bironas set a Tennessee record by kicking four game-winning field goals in 2006, including a 60-yarder to beat the Indianapolis Colts in December. All that earned him was competition in training camp from a strong-legged rookie from Auburn to make sure he doesn't get too comfortable.
Bironas, who has only two years in the NFL with the Titans, understands. In fact, he's glad to have John Vaughn around. It's enjoyable to take time off while the second team works in practice.
``Instead of 12 or 10 field goals in a row, it's five or six like how it is during the season,'' Bironas said. ``Instead of kicking 18 kickoffs, I'm kicking eight or nine, so definitely it's going to help me maintain my leg a little bit better during camp.''
It doesn't hurt that Vaughn went to Auburn, where Bironas spent all but a semester of his college career.
Coach Jeff Fisher called the situation very competitive.
``Very impressed with what John's been able to do with his leg strength and his accuracy,'' Fisher said. ``We haven't had this as long as I can remember. We've had two guys who can consistently put the ball through the uprights from way out.
``It's going to be interesting to see how it unfolds.''
Bironas won the job in 2005, beating out Ola Kimrin and Jay Taylor in the team's first competition at kicker since moving to Tennessee in 1997. Special teams coach Alan Lowry wasn't able to bring someone in to compete against Bironas in 2006.
The Kentucky native did well enough, converting 22 of 28 field goal attempts and all 32 extra point tries.
He beat Washington with a 30-yarder with 5:15 left, capped a 21-point comeback against the New York Giants with a 49-yarder with 11 seconds to go and beat Buffalo with his fourth game-winner of the year.
But the highlight was the 60-yarder, a franchise record field goal that tied for the fourth-longest in NFL history.
Bironas didn't spend the offseason reveling in his success. He had two surgeries the Titans declined to detail, including one the day after players cleared out their lockers. He renovated a second bathroom in his condo by installing hardwoods. Not exactly the party circuit.
``I like the anonymous kicker,'' Bironas said. ``Stay under the radar. Do your job and let people talk about when it's good and move on each week doing your job. You expect to make them all, whether they're game-winners or short ones. That's where my goal is: to do the best I can out there and let the crowd enjoy it.''
Vaughn is Auburn's all-time leading scorer with 312 points, which ranks him 12th in Southeastern Conference history. He set Auburn records with 50 field goals and converted 162 of 163 extra points, and Vaughn said Lowry already has helped straighten out his kick
Vaughn had offers from Detroit, New York and Atlanta but he chose the Titans, for whom his family has had six season tickets since the team's relocation. Vaughn, who is from the Nashville suburb of Brentwood, has rooted for the club since he was 13.
``They told me I had a chance to compete for a job and come in to push Rob to be better,'' Vaughn said. ``It doesn't work out better than to be in your hometown, so I just took it.''